LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl arrived Thursday in his hometown of Los Angeles where his family will hold private funeral services sometime next week.
Reporters were kept well away as the coffin bearing the slain journalist's remains was taken from the cargo hold of a blue Cathay Pacific Airlines Boeing 747 that landed at Los Angeles International Airport after a flight from Karachi to the United States.
Pearl, 38, was kidnapped in Pakistan Jan. 23 and later murdered while researching a story on Muslim radicals linked to terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The 1981 graduate of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys was born in New Jersey, but grew up in the San Fernando Valley and attended Stanford University in Palo Alto.
The remains were handed over to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi on Wednesday for their return to the United States. An ambulance accompanied by U.S. diplomats carried the yellow wooden coffin to the Karachi airport. The casket was topped with a wreath of red flowers.
"A plane carrying Pearl's remains took off for Los Angeles this morning," an official of Pakistan's Airport Security Force told journalists in Karachi.
Pearl disappeared from Karachi and there was no sign of him until a month later when a video was sent to U.S. diplomats in Pakistan that showed his beheaded body. In May, police recovered a torso, severed head and other parts of the body in a shallow grave in a garden outside Karachi. Last month, DNA tests done in Pakistan and the United States confirmed that the remains were Pearl's.
An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan convicted four men of kidnapping and killing Pearl, including chief suspect Omar Ahmed Saeed Shaikh who was sentenced to death. His three accomplices have been sent to prison for life.
All four have appealed the verdict. If the appeal is rejected, Omar could be put to death by hanging.
(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles and Anwar Iqbal in Washington)